Friday, September 24, 2010

Daycare society barbecue

Our daycare society barbecue was suppose to take place last Friday but they had to reschedule it because of unpredictable weather. It turned out sunny that afternoon. This week, they decided to hold it regardless of the weather. Smart move! September weather is unpredictable in Vancouver. You have summer-like days and fall-like days and it will definitely include rain here and there. Delay barbecues any further and you will definitely be doing it in the rain.

It was overcast today with a few drizzles here and there. Besides this morning's rain, today was a good weather day. 18C is nice for this time of year.

There were hot dogs, various chips, pop, and juice. For activities, there were games and prizes. Most of the games were too advanced for Tristan but he played what he could. He collected two prizes: a bath toy boat and a little stuffed monkey. That's cool. We got home and accidentally found out that the little monkey was magnetic. The cute little monkey is now one super cool monkey! :)

There were a ton of people at the daycare barbecue. The place was packed with kids of all ages. There were pregnant moms, infants, older siblings, dads and at one point it felt a bit like a fair. There was too much stimulation for Tristan I think. This could partly explain why he was a bit rough with the other kids. He almost stepped on a kids hand on the slide, he tried to push away new kids that went on the slide and he closed the window of the play house outside on a girl's hand. It wasn't hard and no one got hurt but the gesture was just mean. One girl that got pushed, went to her mom and told on Tristan. The girl that got her finger crushed at the window cried a bit. What is up with Tristan tonight? The misbehaving and lousy mood did not end there. When it was milk time after his bath, he threw a fit for no reason at all. He wanted to climb in the chair in a particular way and when he couldn't do it himself, he had a fit. This is probably only about the second time he has ever acted like this.

All bad moods aside, we think that Tristan enjoyed being at the daycare barbecue. He enjoyed playing the games and the toys in the new room. I asked Jean-Louis and he thought it was lame but then again, it's him and he likes to give comments like that :) It was too bad we didn't really see any other kids and parents we knew. The society has over 80 kids but not all of them attend socials. Even most of the staff there was unfamiliar. This was definitely not what I had in mind. I actually thought we could talk to some of the parents in Tristan's toddler room. It was our first daycare social so now we will know what to expect for next time!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ah! Smart toddlers.

No, we're not bragging about Tristan again. Today, we had a playdate with a toddler who is way more advanced than Tristan. He is only four months older!

Every parent loves to hear that their child is advanced and smart. We're no different. We some times hear that Tristan is smart from the daycare staff and since Tristan seems to be learning 3 languages and does baby sign, we always thought he was smarter than average babies around his age. Until today. Once you meet another child that is way more advanced than your own, you begin to question your own child's intelligence. Ok, so Tristan may just be average now.

So who is this wise child friend of ours? He is definitely smarter than most kids his age. As far as I know, he has always been smart. He was playing the Towers of Hanoi at a young age, for crying out loud. Ok, Tristan started to walk at an earlier age and can sign but this kid started to talk way younger. Now at just 26 months, he can say four syllable words like helicopter and motorcycle perfectly! He speaks two languages and can assemble puzzles designed for 3-6 year olds. Incredible. Tristan can sign airplane and make airplane noises :(

I know. It's silly to compare kids so young because some my appear more advanced than others but it may not mean anything. Although I'm pretty sure my wise friend's child will be brilliant and will have a bright future :) I once read that a child could start speaking before another but then could catch up and start forming sentences before the first child that was initially more advanced. All children are different, even within the same family. As parents, we just can't help but compare our child with others. Today, I found myself doing this a lot more than I would have liked. Now, I understand how parents can be so competitive with their children. If you have watched the Joy Luck Club, you'll know exactly what I mean. Oh boy!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Daycare field trip to Vancouver Aquarium

This was our first. It was Tristan's first visit to the Vancouver Aquarium and my first trip with daycare. Man, it was a bit stressful for me to get us to daycare by 8:30AM. Tristan woke up at 7:15AM and I was up just before 7AM. Since I was going on the field trip too, I had to leave the stroller at home. He walked with me most of the time and I carried him parts of the way. We got to daycare at 8:20AM - phew!

There were four parent volunteers from our group. Two dads, me, and a grandma. We were responsible for our own child. Makes sense. Tristan sat with me on the bus and I fed him during the trip. Daycare took care of the diaper changes. That was nice. Tristan didn't go nuts on me. He resisted and whined here and there when I moved him from one place to the next but he didn't cause a scene or anything. In fact, I didn't see any kid really misbehave. Success!

I think he enjoyed the aquarium. He enjoyed running around and climbing the rocks to view the fish. I could have sworn there was more to see. I keep thinking I missed an entire area. Aren't there seals, beluga whales, whales or polar bears? I think his favorite were the dolphins when we were outside. That was the only time he signed and asked for "more." He wanted to see more jumping from them. The dolphins were being trained at the time. It's too bad we missed the shows, which were at 1PM and 3PM :(

The field trip was good for me to experience what it was like for Tristan to be at daycare. Well, sort of. I got to see who he played with and what he would do at daycare. I did witness him trying to pretend hit an older girl when the girl yelled at him. He was a feet away and he swung his arm in her direction. That is as violent as I have seen him behave. I snapped at him and then he cried. The episode didn't last long though. Most of the time, he was just running around chasing the other kids or copying what they were doing. He held hands with some of the other kids when they came back from diaper changing. Little kids holding each others hands are so cute. Little hands are a perfect fit :) Another cute thing I observed was when one of Tristan's friends called his name. He is a bit older than Tristan and was able to pronounce "Tristan." Tristan can't even say his own name yet. It was cute to hear his friend calling him :)

Now that the field trip is over, I get to go back to my old schedule :) That is, I get to take my time in the morning and go to daycare. Hooray!

Monday, September 20, 2010

22 months developmental update

Tristan is 22 months old today. I haven't done developmental updates for awhile so I thought I would this time around. In no particular order, here are the updates.

A big boy but still baby-like:

In many ways, Tristan is such a big boy. He is speaking more and more every week and learning to potty. He goes up and down the stairs on his own now. He is a little daredevil and sometimes like to slide or jump down the stairs . He just likes to climb and jump off things, period. In the past several months, he sure has matured a lot. This is why I am sometimes surprised, he can still be so baby-like. Making funny faces or noises still makes him laugh hysterically. Baby entertainment still amuses him. If he gets upset either because one of us won't let him do something and he gets yelled at, he cries for the other parent. He runs around making funny noises. He's a monkey. He's a goof. All these things still remind me that he is still very much a baby.

Music and stories:

He can't make up his mind. What music does he want to hear? He'll first say "Daisy do" (aka Daisy Daisy or Bicycle built for two) and then once you play it, he says "no" and sign and make monkey noises. Now, he wants to listen to "Five little monkeys." Start playing that and he will say "Daisy do" etc. He has been doing this a lot! This week, he seems to be more interested in "Ashes, ashes... down!" (aka Ring around the Rosie).

Speaking of music, he likes to sing and read but since he doesn't know the words, he just mumble jumbles and hums the tune. There was this one hum he was doing for awhile and I had not idea what the music was. He repeatedly did it so I figured it was something he heard at daycare. The end part sounded like "dive jive... nanana." It was sort of driving me crazy trying to figure out what the song was. Then one day, he repeated it after I sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." The verse he was singing was "Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky." The tune was the same, the lyrics - not so much!

He recounts stories or things that happen days or weeks ago. When he hears about it or when he is at the location that it happened in. For example, I sprayed some lemon pedge on a big spider to chase it away by the fireplace. Tristan watched this from the couch and now won't stop recounting the story. Go near the fireplace or mention spider and he will go on and on about how mommy sprayed the spider :)


He speaks like us. He would say something that is partly in English, partly in French and partly in Chinese. That's our fault. Instead of just sticking to one language we tend to speak a bit of everything. For myself, I focus on English but will say some things in Chinese. When I know that Tristan only knows how to identify something in French, I may say it in French. I'm not consistent and it may be screwing him up. Jean-Louis sort of does this too. He sneaks in Chinese here and there but he can't even say it properly.

Potty Training:

We're in full swing here with Tristan's potty training. It's a lot harder than I expected and is taking quite some time. Part of the problem I think is that we're not consistent with him because when he is in daycare three days a week, they don't put him on the potty a lot. Some days he will only sit on the potty once while he is there. Often it's 2 or 3 times. When Tristan is home with me, he is on the potty at least 7 times and we sit for 5 to 10 minutes each time. We sit longer if he tells me he needs to poo beforehand.

It's been hit and miss but lately there has been a lot of misses. It's getting to the point where I'm so frustrated some times that I actually get mad and want to go on strike. Maybe we're too hard on him and it's backfiring or maybe he's not ready after all. Sometimes I find myself waiting all day for a poop so I can try to catch it and when I miss and it's the only one of the day, I get so angry. It's terrible! I need to chill out :(

It's crazy how missed potty trips can make me so upset. At the same time, I find myself overjoyed when we have a successful potty trip. Like this morning when Tristan told me he had to "caca" (aka poo), I dropped everything I was doing, rushed him upstairs, and we sat and played with the etch-n-sketch for less than 5 minutes when he had a big poop in the potty. He cheered first and then I cheered. It was awesome! Gross but awesome :)


We are lucky. Tristan is a great sleeper. He had always slept a few hours less than average babies but when he does sleep, he sleeps well. He is sleeping more now than he did when he was less than a year old. We figure it's a growth spurt.

Tristan moved into his own room over a month ago and it was almost as though nothing changed. We also moved right next door to him. We're pretty much the same distance away, except that a wall separates us now. The first few days, he would wake up crying, just like the way he would wake up from an afternoon nap. That was the only difference I noticed. Now, he wakes up calling "mama" or "baba." When we step into the room, he signs and says "all done." Yup, he is all done sleeping!


Tristan is little Mr. Picky. I already spoke about his little picky attitude when he eats so I won't do that again here. The past few months, we have been more lenient with him about what he gets to eat. I remember when he first started the toddler room at daycare, I gave the staff there a small list of things he could eat from their snack list. I'm sure they all thought I was a high maintenance mom. He wasn't allowed any perogies, pizza, baked fries, sauces etc. They would only give him Shreddies, plain whole wheat toast (no butter - nothing), bagel and plain cream cheese, plain yogurt, veggies, and fruit. Now, he is having whole wheat toast with butter, some perogies, cheese pizza and if they accidently give him something like flavored yogurt, I would not flip out :) See! I'm not so uptight anymore :) This is sort of what I call gradual transition into the world of adult food. In the past month, he has even had bites of homemade bakes!


Tristan has 10 teeth, including one molar at the bottom. He's got 3 more on its way. We can clearly see two more molars and another tooth at the top that is partly out already. I think the teething can be blamed for some of his crankiness lately.

Getting smart:

Tristan knows that he is not allowed to bring his big toys into the kitchen. He has a toy vacuum that he likes to push around. We tell him carpet-yes, kitchen floor-no. He repeats this and understands. The other day, Jean-Louis told me that he took the vacuum into the kitchen but he was lifting it above the ground. He told Jean-Louis he was lifting it and he walked into the kitchen. As long as the vacuum didn't touch the floor, it should be allowed, right? Nice try buddy.

He is very teachable now. He seems to know what his boundaries are with me and what they are with his dad. Around me he doesn't climb the chairs in the dining room and yank things off the table. With his dad, he does. Why? Because Jean-Louis let him do it a few times.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our version of grilled cheese sandwiches

We make most of our grilled cheese sandwiches out of whole wheat or multi-grain bread rather than white bread. We rarely ever eat white bread anyway. When we have a choice, we'll get chicken or turkey deli meat instead of ham as well. Both salty but chicken and turkey has less fat. Every little thing helps, right? ;) Rather than buttering both tops of the bread, I'll either not butter at all because my panini grill can handle it or use mayonnaise instead.

Who doesn't like a grilled cheese sandwich? Before Tristan came along, I never really had grilled cheese sandwiches before. Weird, eh? I made a tuna melt before that was similar but I had no idea what it was called since I totally made it up. Then ever since we went to Little Nest and tried their grilled cheese sandwiches, I have been wanting to make some. Sure they aren't the healthiest things but I liked them! And kids LOVE them! We don't eat them all the time and I always try to make things healthier or serve something healthier on the side. Since we got our panini press, we've been making lots of grilled sandwiches like paninis and grilled cheese. It's just so easy!

The following is how we make our grilled cheese sandwiches now. I sort of stumbled upon it by accident when I was trying to get rid of leftover cooked yams. The yams add an extra sweet flavor and it looks like cheddar so it will probably even win over the picky eaters :) I feel a bit deceptive but it tastes good and it wasn't intentional.



Multi-grain sliced bread
Cooked yam (sliced for easy spreading)
Ham, chicken, or turkey sliced deli meat
Medium cheddar cheese
Butter or Mayonnaise (both optional)

Take one slice of bread and spread some yam on one side. Top this with a few crumbles of cheese. Next is ham. Then top with cheese. Close this with a slice of bread. If you like, spread the top and bottom of the sandwich with butter or mayonnaise. Grill for a few minutes until cheese has melted and tops appear nicely toasted. Serve immediately while it's hot :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tristan is an only child and very social

The article "The only child: not a loner?" talks about how growing up as the only child does not harm the child's social skills. I am not surprised but that's good to know it is supported by a study!

The article states that a child without much interaction until kindergarten will have just as many friends as any other child by the time they reach middle school. It is speculated that an only child in this situation tends to be adult-centric and as the other kids age and become more adult-like, the child can then better relate to them.

Of course this study makes me think of Tristan and what he will be like when he grows up. Both Jean-Louis and I are not very social people and so far we have been surprised at how social Tristan is. Even before he started daycare, he liked being around others. He wasn't as attached to us as I thought he was and would sometimes even let strangers hold him for a bit. Everyone said he was a very "alert" baby because he would just stare and look at everything. Now that he is in daycare, which would disqualify him from the above study, he is even more social. He loves being around other kids. At the park, he would automatically follow other kids around. If they run, he would too. He would think it's part of a game and of course he is playing :)

For the first year of his life, we spend most of our days inside just the two of us or just the three of us. Because of this, I was a bit worried Tristan would have a hard time adjusting to daycare. When the staff at daycare met him and we did gradual entry, they told me he was going to be "easy," I just had to see it first to believe it. He accepted daycare in 5 days where some kids took a month or longer. When we went away on holiday for a few weeks and then returned, he was sad but he didn't cry. I hear that some of the kids even have a hard time back at daycare on Mondays after being away for the weekend. Now, I'm a believer :)

I love that Tristan is a social kid. I don't want him to end up anti-social like Jean-Louis and I. He is being raised totally different though. Jean-Louis was the only child and so was his dad. They are both somewhat anti-social but I think it was just the way they were raised. I have more real-life friends than Jean-Louis but I still wish I had more good friends. I want Tristan to have lots of good friends so that he will have a strong support system to help him through his life. I have a good feeling about Tristan so far and studies like the one mentioned above are encouraging.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: 1 year old in giant tractor

Strawberry shortcake for all

Thanks to Chef Heidi Fink over at lip smacking, I made the strawberry shortcake recipe she posted and it is another keeper! It was easy to make, pretty, and delicious :)

We actually gave some to Tristan, which makes that the first cake he has ever tasted! We have been very picky about giving him sweets but since the ingredients for this cake sounded somewhat healthy, we decided to make him a version with less sugar than the version we had. The cake itself was the same but rather than sweetening the filling, I set aside plain whip cream and unsweetened strawberries for him. The cake part was the only thing that had added sugar and it wasn't a lot either. Plus, the recipe called for some whole wheat flour. I love recipes that call for whole wheat flour and still taste great :)

Tristan ate some of the cake but mostly the strawberries and whip cream. The unsweetened stuff :) I don't think he is into stuff like this yet. Maybe it's still too sweet for him? The other day, I fed in a juicy pluto plum and he actually asked for water part way through the feeding. I'm guessing it was too sweet for him.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Confederation Park in Burnaby

We never cared for playgrounds and kid-friendly parks before. Now, it's all about finding kid-friendly places like restaurants and parks we can take our toddler to. Does the restaurant have a kids menu and is it any good? Does it have a kid's play area? Is there a change table in the washroom? Are there other kids and families at the restaurant? Do the parks have a nice playground and is it suitable for toddlers? Are the walking trails stroller-friendly? Will our toddler have a good time at this park? etc. We won't go out unless we know it will be worth it.

This past weekend, we went to Confederation Park. Jean-Louis and I have never been there. Tristan had already visited the park once with his daycare group. Lucky boy! It was a toss up between Confederation Park or Buntzen Lake but we figured Tristan would have more fun at Confederation Park.

Confederation Park is a small park with lots of great kids activities. There is a nice playground with slides and play areas for smaller children. Right next to it is a water park with a boat inside. It was actually quite cold when we were there but that still didn't stop some kids from playing in there. If you didn't get wet, then it was fine :)

It was very busy. Kids were everywhere. There were also two birthday parties going on. Both parties rented a blown-up castle for kids to jump around inside. It sure looked like fun. It would be so great for Tristan to be invited to one of these parties one day. We can't rent one and throw an outdoor party for him since it's too cold and likely rainy on his birthday.

We brought lunch to the park and sat on one of many picnic tables in the area. It was surprisingly quite clean everywhere. After playing in the playground, we visited the miniature train across the street. Tristan absolutely loves trains! He can hear the train while he was in the playground and wanted to go there instantly. When we got there, he took a ride with Jean-Louis while I stayed behind to do some filming and picture taking. Train rides are only $2.50 a person and kids under 3 years are free. The train ride lasted around 10 minutes. It's really quite adorable :) There was another birthday party at the train station. Let's just say Confederation Park is a popular venue for holding birthday parties!

We walked in the small trail in the park while Tristan drank his afternoon milk in the stroller. Most of the trail is stroller-friendly but there are parts of the trail that are hilly. We were going downhill quite steep at one point, we had to tilt our stroller so that Tristan would be more comfortable. In the process, we did get a few nice views of the Burrard Inlet. If walking and hiking is what you are after, this won't be the park for you.

Overall, we thought Confederation Park was fun and we will definitely go back. We live less than 20 minutes away by car and it's a straightforward route to get there. Tristan also loves riding the miniature train. He didn't ask to ride it again but I'm sure he wouldn't have mind riding it all day :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Being creative when feeding a toddler

Tristan is 21 months old and he is picky about what he eats. He is generally a good eater but every now and then, he gives us a hard time. When he was young, he ate everything. Eating was a favorite activity for him until he was around 16 or 17 months old. We have been very careful to feed him only healthy balanced foods but it seems like toddler pickiness is unavoidable.

We have learned that what he will eat and how much he will eat depends on several things:
  • The appearance of it
  • The consistency of it (mushy versus hard to chew)
  • The mood he is in
  • Whether or not he knows what it is and likes it
  • Whether or not he is hungry
  • Whether or not he is bored of it
  • How it is being served to him (i.e. in a plate, bowl, cup, with spoon, on your lap, in his chair etc.)
  • Whether or not he receives praise for eating it
With all these variables, you wonder how he it is possible to even feed him, right? Well, he has been with us since day one and we mostly know how he is programmed. Mostly :) We generally know what he loves to eat. Regardless of some of the things that may turn him off in the list above, there are a few foods he will almost always eat.

Seldom does he refuse the following foods:
  • Egg (I swear this is his favorite in the whole world)
  • Fish (his favorite is black cod!)
  • Tofu
  • Plain rice
  • Plain pasta
  • Pear
  • Banana
  • Milk
When he is under the weather or teething really bad, he is more difficult and won't eat very much of anything. He has a nasty cough right now and doesn't seem to want to eat much of anything. When times are rough, we have to be extra creative but sometimes it's so exhausting!

Typically, we feed him in the highchair with a bowl and spoon and allow him to take as long as he wants. If it's something new and he is hungry, he'll eat fast and ask for more. If he doesn't want to eat, we'll know right away. From here, there are various things we will try.

Here is a scenario that may occur. When he won't even try it, we will sometimes force a bit in his mouth so that he tastes it. This often works for us :) Our rule is that he is not allow to reject something until he has tried it. If he still refuses, we will eat it ourselves with his spoon and make "mmm" noises. Yeah, this doesn't work too well. We feed him what we eat so he already sees us eating the same thing. Next up, we switch utensils on him or present the food in a different container. Sometimes, he will eat it from one of our spoons but we need to supervise him more. Still no? We feed him ourselves with our spoon and from our bowl of food, instead of his. This has worked a few times. Still shaking his head? We use distractions like music, we ask him about something like "where was daddy today?" or we tell him to blow his food because it is hot. Distractions can work quite well on him. I know when we are out of the house and pack his lunch, he tends to eat more of it because we feed him in an environment that is new and he likes to look at things and observe people when they walk by. Most of the time we wouldn't have to throw everything at him but during very difficult times, we do. If nothing works, we move on to the next course :(

He almost never rejects his dessert, which is fruit. However, we only give him what we would normally give him because we don't want him to get full on just fruit. We also don't want him to think that if he refuses his main dish that he can have more fruit. Depending on the situation, we may not even give him any fruit at all.

Some times we have backup food but making backup food kind of sucks. When Tristan doesn't eat much and hasn't been eating much for awhile, I will make backup food for him just so he will eat something. Backup food will usually consist of a dish we know he will eat such as a vegetable omelet or grilled sandwich. I remember our doctor telling us that "quantity is better than quality" when they are sick. However, we often do find that when he doesn't eat much and becomes quite hungry, he will eat almost anything you give him. We have skipped meals before when he was being too difficult with us :(

It's hard to keep baby food posts short because I always have too much to say. Heck, I could probably write a whole book on this :) Sometimes it's actually fun to experiment to see what works with him. Getting a toddler to eat something he won't is challenging so it often feels like such a victory when you succeed! I don't think there is anything we haven't tried by now. We usually tackle the problem over 20 minutes or so and if all fails, then we declare defeat.

Here are some examples of how we were able to get our toddler to eat:
  1. He normally loves noodles but he must not be feeling too well. This happened last night actually. I took a noodle, held it long and strung it up high and into my mouth. He was amused and when I tried it on him, he ate it. We tried a few things first but none of them worked until we tried this. Even so, he only ate a few strands.
  2. If he has been eating the same meal for a few sittings, he may be bored and refuse to eat it. Here is where we will add a new fresh ingredient or make an omelet out of it. He loves eggs! Add an egg to anything and he will at least try it!
  3. Sick of the same cereal in the morning? I take each piece of cereal and form images or geometric shapes with them on his tray. He cheers. The distraction and amusement gets him to eat more.
  4. We barbecued some cauliflower and zucchini and then I made a salad out of it. He didn't like it much after trying it. We offered it to him a few times and he refused to have any. We don't like to puree food for him anymore because he should be eating more firm foods but some times we have to in order to get him to eat more vegetables. I made a soup out of the vegetables, added a carrot to it, and that added another vegetable and gave it a nice orange color. I then cooked plain pasta and used the soup as a sauce. He ate lots of it! He loves pasta and he liked the color of the sauce. Honestly, it was very good and we all ate some :)
Toddler moods are strange. One day he may like something and another day he won't want anything to do with it. The exception is the list of his favorite foods above. Lately, he absolutely loves blueberries. He asks for them after every main course. It's hard to believe he once hated them. The same thing with strawberries, blackberries, corn etc. It really depends on his mood I think. Knowing this, we like to take advantage of his good moods. When he ate corn on the cob the other week, we decided to give him as much as he wanted. The next few days, we bought more corn and he would still eat them. Then all of a sudden, he stopped. We weren't feeding it to him at every meal so he was not bored of it. He just wasn't interested anymore. Similarly, one morning he was hungry for blackberries so I gave him tons, then when dinner came along and again the following morning, he wanted nothing to do with them. Blueberries on the other hand, he can eat that three times a day for several days straight!

Feeding a toddler can be challenging and we find ourselves improvising a lot in the kitchen. There's frustration but there is also the great feeling that you get when you see your toddler eating lots of food that you know is good for his health. Whether or not he will eat what we eat, we still offer it to him every time. We're hoping that one day, he will eventually eat and enjoy everything that we eat.
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